Motivation is the driving force behind action; it’s also a primary component of the addiction recovery process. When embraced, motivation can drive us away from the chaos and destruction of addiction, steering us into clean and sober lives.
Where does our motivation to change ultimately come from? For centuries, some of the world’s greatest minds sought answers to that question, only to come up with different answers. Despite the lingering mysteries, we know one thing for sure: Motivation is a personal decision that has to come from within.
Getting and Staying Clean
We tend to get serious about overcoming addiction when we realize it’s in our best interest to do so. Naturally, a variety of factors prompt the desire for change – personal well-being, awareness of long-term negative consequences, employment status or family issues to name just a few.
Regardless of the reason, it takes a high level of internal motivation to stay clean in the long run. Without that firm commitment, we’re virtually destined to fall short of those sobriety goals. With that in mind, let’s look at some motivational tips to keep in mind while on the path to recovery:
- Cost-Benefit Analysis: This simple exercise can help you assess everything that you lost and gained while active in addiction. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line straight down the middle, creating two columns. In the left hand column, write down the benefits or gains of addiction. In the right hand column, write down everything lost as a result of addiction. What did it cost you financially, emotionally and socially? What did you gain while using?Once you’ve written down all the pros and cons, it’s pretty easy to see the “benefits” of using drugs are short-term, while the “costs” are long-term. Carry this sheet of paper with you during early recovery and, once faced with temptation, it can serve as a great reality check. Remembering the pain and suffering of active addiction can be a great motivator to change.
- Hang with Inspirational People: There’s nothing more motivating than a success story. Hearing how someone else tackled hardships and came out the other side proves that success is within reach. Success stories can also reaffirm that you’re totally capable of staying on track and meeting your own recovery goals.
- Motivational Phrases: Find a few motivational phrases that inspire you, write or print them out, then tape them up in various places around the house. The next time you’re feeling down or in need of a boost, a quick glance at your favorite motivational phrases can encourage you to stay clean.
- Tap Into Family Support: Loving friends and family members have the unique power to boost your existing motivation by simply offering their unconditional love and support. This is particularly helpful when striving to make forward progress. And though the “external” help is key, this is still a form of motivation that’s created from within – it stems from your very own feelings, thoughts and values.
- Reward Yourself: Recovery is a process, not an event. You’ll need to come up with ways to get – and stay – motivated in the long-term. A good way to do this is to treat yourself every now and then. Whether it’s getting a massage or splurging on something sweet, rewards keep you motivated in achieving goals.
Remember: Motivation is a personal thing; the motivators that work for you might not work for someone else. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Additional Reading: Self-Sabotage: Stop Standing in Your Own Way
Tips for Establishing Your Commitment to Sobriety
Motivation can help people to strive to achieve their goals. For many individuals with drug or alcohol problems, motivational factors such as religion can inspire them to change their lives and avoid substance use.
Attend 12-Step Meetings
Support group meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous connect people who deal with behavioral problems caused by addiction. During meetings, participants share stories of their successes and failures during recovery. Listening to these testimonials and abiding by 12-step principles can inspire people to achieve or sustain sobriety.
Consider the Costs of Drug Use
Drug and alcohol use isn’t cheap. Purchasing drugs from a dealer or alcohol from a nearby store can become a financial burden over time. Spending money on these substances could cut into paying for rent or bills. Addiction comes with costs to society as well. Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription opioids costs the United States more than $740 billion each year in crime, health care and lost productivity, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Read Inspirational Quotes
Reading motivational or inspirational quotes can elicit change and help people avoid substance use. Many people who are discouraged by their behaviors use quotes as tools to build motivation and encouragement.
Think About the Health Risks of Drug Use
Getting drunk or high can lead to painful hangovers. But abusing drugs or alcohol over an extended period can cause more severe health consequences, including cardiovascular, respiratory and psychological problems. Substance abuse can also lead to violence, trauma, injury or diseases such as HIV. Alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses may result in death.
Seek Religion or Spirituality
Many people turn to a higher power for motivation to overcome drug misuse. A higher power often refers to a deity, but some people interpret it as nature or self-will. Religion or spirituality can help people achieve calmness, peace and sanity. Staying connected to a higher power can give people the strength to avoid drug or alcohol use and commit their lives to sobriety.
How Tash Found SobrietyTash used alcohol to fit in with her new friends. When it didn’t work, she turned to therapy to quit drinking and cope with depression and anxiety.
Reasons to Get Sober
Before committing to a life free of drugs and alcohol, people should understand why it is important to achieve sobriety. They need to learn that addiction is a disease that can hurt their loved ones as much as it hurts them.
Substance Abuse Hurts Families
Drug or alcohol abuse affects more than just the individual. It can hurt an entire family. When people struggle with substance abuse problems, family members may argue more often, harbor shame or develop an anxiety disorder. Over time, relationships could become damaged beyond repair.
Substance Use Can Lead to Addiction
Frequent drug or alcohol abuse can result in addiction, a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive behaviors despite knowing the harmful consequences. People with addiction may lie or steal to support their drug or alcohol use. Substance use disorders can also result in heart disease, cancer and mental illness.
Risk of Legal Consequences
Substance abuse is associated with legal problems. For example, someone addicted to alcohol risks arrest for driving while under the influence. And a person with an opioid addiction could participate in a drug transaction with an undercover police officer. As of October 2017, more than 46 percent of federal prison inmates were arrested for a drug crime, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Staying Sober Requires Commitment
Staying sober can be strenuous. Many factors can trigger relapse among people in recovery, including cravings, memories and stress. Completing treatment does not guarantee sobriety.
Upon completing rehab, individuals should seek aftercare. These services include counseling, 12-step programs and sober housing. Engaging in aftercare services is a critical component to recovery because 40 to 60 percent of people who complete treatment experience relapse.
Finding motivation to stay sober can be as challenging as becoming inspired to get sober. But people can stay sober by confiding in loved ones who are emotionally invested in their sobriety, communicating with others in recovery and remembering how difficult life was prior to sobriety.
A 2015 report published in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation examined the motivation to maintain sobriety among residents of sober living homes. Many residents cited drug testing, costs associated with substance use and support from other residents as motivational factors for remaining sober. Some study participants also stayed sober to avoid homelessness, a common outcome of addiction.
Substance abuse ruins lives. But sobriety saves them. Finding inspiration to get and stay sober can allow individuals to experience a number of health, social and financial benefits.
Why is motivation so important?
Addiction is a chronic relapsing condition, and even those who enter treatment may not be successful in reducing or stopping their substance use. A recent study estimates that around 35 to 48 percent of people who enter addiction treatment will not complete it. For those with addiction, substance use becomes part of daily life, and can be a coping mechanism for other physical and psychological symptoms, such as chronic pain, depression, or anxiety.
Many people who complete treatment will relapse. Often, people with addiction face an uphill battle of cravings and urges to use during and after treatment. Individuals with addiction also need to sort through problems that they may have been avoiding when using or problems which are consequences of their use.
Those entering recovery are faced with the challenge of learning to reengage in daily life activities that may have gone by the wayside while they were using addictive substances. That takes ongoing support and attention from health professionals, family, and friends, and requires motivation to forge ahead, even when facing inevitable setbacks or obstacles. Those suffering from addiction will not just wake up with a happy, problem-free life once they stop using or leave a treatment program.
In fact, relapse rates are estimated to be between 40 to 60 percent for those who are treated. This doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying to recover, or that they don’t want to. Changing addictive behavior is extremely challenging, and people need help to do so.
How can someone become motivated to change behavior?
Entering and remaining in addiction treatment asks a lot of people. For many people, doing this alone seems impossible. However, there are evidence-based practices that increase motivation for changing behavior, including Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).
These motivational interventions help individuals recognize that uncertainty about behavior change is normal, while also helping them harness their strengths to do so. Motivation is made up of three critical components working together to influence behavior, each of which is addressed through motivational interventions:
- Willing – Desire to change
- Does the person see change as something they want?
- Able – Confidence
- Even if they want to change, does it feel possible?
- Ready – Priority
- Even with willingness and ability, is it a priority right now?
We need more than improved treatment access
Motivation for treatment and for a continued recovery is essential for success. Without being willing, able, and ready, a lack of motivation can be an obstacle to successful treatment and recovery. And even if treatment were available for everyone who needed it, there would still be people who were not motivated to start and those who wouldn’t be motivated to stay in treatment. Yet building and maintaining motivation for recovery can’t be done alone. People with addiction are more likely to be motivated to seek treatment if they can openly share their goals and challenges with family and friends and be confident that they will receive the social support needed to stay on the path to recovery.
Addressing the challenge of motivating individuals to seek and complete treatment and sustain recovery also requires a concerted effort to (1) train health professionals and treatment providers in the necessary skills of engaging people in motivational interventions, (2) research and implement the most effective means of doing so, and (3) provide adequate funding so that these tools are used broadly enough to have an impact on the 22 million people in dire need of addiction care.
The Absolute Best Addiction Recovery Quotes Of All Time – Top 5
5. Addiction Is The Disease That Makes You Too Selfish To See The Havoc You Created Or Care About The People Whose Lives You Have Shattered.
4. It’s Gonna Get Harder Before It Gets Easier. But It Will Get Better, You Just Gotta Make It Through The Hard Stuff First.
3. Recovery Is Not For People Who Need It, It’s For People Who Want It.
2. You Were Never Created To Live Depressed, Defeated, Guilty, Condemned, Ashamed Or Unworthy. You Were Create To Be Victorious.
1. I Would Rather Go Through Life Sober, Believing I Am An Alcoholic, Than Go Through Life Drunk, Trying To Convince Myself That I Am Not.
Personal Growth Motivation: The Drive to Change
Do you have the drive to change your life?
According to the research of Dr. Anders Ericsson, motivation is the most significant predictor of success.
In simple terms, Dr. Ericsson found that experts in many walks of life, whether sport, music, chess, dance, or business, had put in the most hours at their craft. He coined the phrase, “It takes 10 years and 10,000 hours to become an expert.”
Other research has shown that the longer someone is in a career, the less important innate ability (i.e., intelligence) is and the more important motivation becomes. In other words, the most successful people just keep plugging away longer than others.
Why is the relationship between motivation and success so robust? Because high motivation will ensure total preparation which will, in turn, ensure maximum performance and results.
This same concept of motivation applies to making changes in your life. The reality is that change is difficult because, in all likelihood, you have been the way you currently are for a long time and your habits are deeply ingrained. Your ability to find and maintain your motivation for meaningful and long-lasting change will ultimately determine whether you’re able to break long-standing habits and patterns.
Let’s first consider what motivation is in very practical terms. Motivation can be defined in the following ways:
- An internal or external drive that prompts a person to action;
- The ability to initiate and persist toward a chosen objective;
- Putting 100 percent of your time, effort, energy, and focus into your goal attainment;
- Being able to pursue change in the face of obstacles, boredom, fatigue, stress, and the desire to do other things;
- The determination to resist ingrained and unhealthy patterns and habits;
- Doing everything you can to make the changes you want in your life.
Impact of Motivation
It’s one thing to say you are motivated to make changes and achieve your goals; it’s an entirely different thing to have that motivation translate into actual action toward those goals.
Motivation is so important because it impacts every aspect of your efforts at change:
- Preparation to make the changes;
- Patience in giving yourself time for the changes to occur;
- Persistence when old habits and patterns resist your efforts;
- Perseverance in overcoming obstacles and setbacks;
- Lifestyle that supports the changes;
- Ultimate achievement of the desired changes.
For every person, there is a different motivation that drives them toward their change goals. The Motivation Matrix breaks down motivation along two dimensions: internal vs. external and positive vs. negative.
The resulting four quadrants can each provide motivation, but will produce different experiences and outcomes.
- Internal-positive: Challenge, desire, passion, satisfaction, self-validation (likely outcome: successful change, fulfillment).
- External-positive: Recognition and appreciation from others, financial rewards, (likely outcome: some change, partial fulfillment, dependent on others for continued change and good feelings).
- Internal-negative: Threat, fear of failure, inadequacy, insecurity (likely outcome: some change, possible relapse).
- External-negative: Fear of loss of job or relationship, insufficient respect from others, financial or social pressures, pressure from significant others, unstable life (likely outcome: some success, high risk of relapse).
Obviously, the ideal type of motivation is internal-positive because the motivation is coming from a place of strength and security. At the same time, there has been research that has shown that many successful people are driven to achieve their goals by insecurity, suggesting that an internal-negative or external-negative motivation can lead to change (though rarely happiness).
Which quadrant do you think you belong to? If you are not in the internal-positive quadrant, you might want to reevaluate your motivations and work toward that place in the matrix.
Effort vs. Goals
All else being equal, whatever you put into your change efforts is what you will get out of them. A problem I see among many people who say they want to change is a disconnect between their efforts and their goals. People say they really want to change, but their efforts don’t reflect that stated motivation. What this tells me is that there is often a gap between the goals many people have and the effort they are putting into those goals.
It’s easy to say that you want to change. It is much more difficult to actually make that happen. If you have this kind of disconnect, you have two choices. You can either lower your change goals to match your efforts or you can raise your efforts to match your goals. There is no right choice. But if you’re truly motivated to change, you better make sure you’re doing the work necessary to achieve your goals.
The difficult nature of making changes means that you will likely be putting in an effort that will take you far beyond the point at which it is inspiring or fun.
This junction is what I call The Grind, which starts when actions necessary to produce meaningful change become stressful, tiring, and tedious. The Grind is also the point at which your efforts toward change really count. The Grind is what separates those who are able to change from those who are not.
Many people who reach this point in the process of change either ease up or give up because change is just too darned hard. But truly motivated people reach The Grind and keep on going.
Many self-help gurus will say that you have to love The Grind. I say that, except for a very few hyper-motivated people, love isn’t in the cards because there’s not much to love in The Grind.
But how you respond to The Grind lies along a continuum. Loving the Grind is rare. At the other end of the continuum is “I hate The Grind.” If you feel this way, you are not likely to stay motivated to change.
I suggest that you neither love nor hate The Grind; simply accept it as part of the deal in striving toward a better you. The Grind may not feel very good, but what does feel good is seeing your efforts pay off with the changes you want.
Finding the Motivation
Finding the motivation to change means maintaining your efforts consistently when it would be easy to give up. It involves doing everything possible to achieve your change goals.
Motivation to change begins with what I call the three Ds. The first D stands for direction. Before you can begin the process of change, you must first consider the different directions you can go in your life. You could continue your life as it is now, make immediate and dramatic changes, or take a slower route to change.
The second D represents decision. With these three choices of direction, you must decide on one direction in which to go. None of these directions is necessarily right or wrong, better or worse; they’re simply your options. Your choice will dictate whether you make changes in your life and the amount of time and effort you put into those changes.
The third D stands for dedication. Once you’ve made your decision, you must dedicate yourself to it. If your decision is to make significant changes in your life, whether quickly or slowly, then this last step will determine whether those changes are realized. Your decision to change will then become a top priority in your life. Only by being completely dedicated to your direction and decision will you ensure that you have the motivation you will need to achieve your change goals.
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